An unplugged wedding ceremony. What does it mean? Why should you do it? Here's what this wedding officiant thinks.
We've all seen it. Uncle Joe leaning into the aisle, his arm outstretched while clutching his flip phone, recording the bride being escorted by her dad, or Grandma Helen, standing up, iPad raised above her head, taking a picture of her grandson waiting at the altar.
You think I'm exaggerating? I'm not. I asked some local photographer friends to tell me their stories about weddings that didn't have an unplugged ceremony...they didn't disappoint.
Jenna McCarty, Jenna McCarty Photography:
"Mother of the groom literally stood in front of the groom as the bride walked down the aisle to get a photo in the aisle."
Sammy Coyle, Samantha Coyle Photography:
"These are the actual GROOMSMEN at the altar space photographing the bride walking down the aisle."
Matt Hoffart, Weddings by Matthew:
"I Take These Every. Single. Wedding."
Sara Szymanski Foss, Sara Foss Photography LLC:
"Thanks to the lady in the pink (top picture) who was taking pictures or video and who actually called out to the flower girl to look look at her, the bottom picture is what I got (and the client received)."
Scott Shaw, Scott Shaw Photography:
"I decided to make something good out of it. They did not make the announcement."
(The tiny print at the bottom of this photo says "It seemed that everyone wanted to document Jaclyn's entrance with her father.")
An unplugged wedding is when you ask your wedding guests to turn off their electronic devices during your ceremony. This request can come in the form of a sign (as I showed you above), or a request by your officiant; or better yet, both! A sign is a great idea, but it's much more effective when it's backed up by a verbal request.
As a wedding officiant, I always ask my couples during our meeting if they want an unplugged announcement prior to the start of the ceremony. If they don't know what an unplugged ceremony entails, I explain it to them in detail. It's all about the photography and videography. You've paid a lot of money to have a professional photographer and videographer. Guests who take photos at your ceremony can interfere with the flash used by your professionals, they can get in the way of the professionals, and they can post bad photos to social media before your ceremony is even finished. In order to get the beautiful photos you've paid for, an unplugged announcement is a necessary announcement.
Typically, I walk to the to the front of the ceremony space before the ceremony begins. This is the perfect time for me to take a moment to speak to all of your guests. My go-to line is "Hello and welcome to the wedding! Please silence your cell phones and electronic devices and refrain from taking photos. Our photographer and videographer will capture how this moment looks, I encourage all of you to capture how it feels with your hearts. Thank you" (I like to kill 'em with kindness). I do feel you need to tell guests explicitly to refrain from taking photos. "Silence your cell phones" or "turn off your electronic devices" is not enough. Now, I've never interrupted a ceremony to tell someone to put away their phone, but I have been known to offer an evil eye if someone pulls out a camera or a cell phone.
So if you're a wedding guest, please honor the wishes of the couple, or the announcement from the officiant. If you're a couple getting married, please consider having an unplugged announcement before your ceremony begins. And finally, if you're an officiant, please strongly suggest to your couples that you make an unplugged announcement.
(Here's a little slide show composed of photos found on the internet to convince you)